Thursday, May 10, 2012
Tuesday, October 11, 2011
That's where we are now. The taro, 'ulu (breadfruit), pulaka, and bananas are beginning to die. These foods are major staples in the local diet. Water is currently being severely rationed, and you can imagine that there simply isn't enough for all the animals to drink their fill.
So often we take for granted turning on the tap and filling our glasses with as much clean water as we can drink. When was the last time you stepped under a warm stream of clean freshwater to enjoy a long shower? Our Tuvaluan brothers and sisters bathe in the sea now, conserving every drop they can for cooking and drinking.
But to them, the glass is always half full. They find the joy in every moment of life and are grateful for what they have been given. They know that God will send rain in His own time, and it is their place to care for one another and patiently wait for deliverance from drought and maybe famine.
They are not alone. Australia and New Zealand are helping where they can. Sending fresh water takes a little bit of time and a lot of money. We are working on long-term solutions now, and using funding from this blog through our generous and engaged audience, we would like to help them find a way to desalinate their water supply and purify the rainwater catchbasins. There are a myriad of ways to secure fresh and clean drinking water on islands like this, but it takes all of us and all of them.
If you can donate, please do so now. Every little bit sure helps. We work hard to keep operating costs at a minimum, and everything donated goes where you would want it to. You may consider donating to the Tuvaluan Red Cross chapter or writing to a friend that might be able to assist. This blog is usually a good point-of-departure for people who are new to Tuvalu's people and culture.
If you are reading this in Japan, and have a case of sealed bottled water you would like to donate, please contact Luse at firstname.lastname@example.org. She can direct you to the nearest collection station for a water bottle drive, which will begin today, Tuesday, October 11.
There are 884 million people that don't enjoy safe drinking water. 12,373 of them live on this beautiful patch of paradise. If you could give just one of them a bottle of water, you would understand how a little bit goes a long way. If they could, each would thank you for caring enough to read about their plight.
Monday, September 5, 2011
However, the change also brings new faces into the project- fresh ideas, loads of enthusiasm, perspective, and expertise. We maintain the old team and add a few new people to help move the project forward.
We are very happy to report a productive summer. Kaleb Valdez and Lowell Nash spent the summer on the U.S. Mainland, visiting supporters and business advisory board members for SIFE’s leadership and mentor body. They spoke at a variety of speaking engagements on Tuvalu and the club’s work there, reporting on the progress of several initiatives and exploring future partnerships and projects with the CEO’s and leaders of several major companies and organizations. They also renewed contact with some of SIFE’s friends and donors from the past and expressed our thanks for their contributions.
Their itinerary took them into Canada, where the Ockey family graciously hosted them and discussed the future of the Olave Preschool to be built, as well as our dates and itinerary for this year’s trip. We also shipped two pallets of books from the Cache County School District in Utah to our team in Hawai’i, led by Easter Niko. They’ve worked hard to sort the books and prepare the best, full classroom sets to be shipped to Fiji and then on to Tuvalu.
We look forward to adding some additional empowerment blasts to our round of workshops this year. We’re forming more partnerships and expanding our already-international network of experts in energy, economics, education, waste management, and public administration. We appreciate the hard work of our liaisons in the Tuvaluan government, particularly the Ministry of Education as we prepare to install this school. People watch this project from across the globe- we have regular readers of this blog in over a dozen countries and have received excellent feedback from government and civil leaders as well as concerned and generous citizens that contribute to this cause. The world is finally learning about Tuvalu and is watching to see what will happen next.
Sunday, August 28, 2011
Preserving those precious memories of some of the most incredible days of my life has transformed them into cherished reflections. They remind me that this project represents something so much bigger than any one of us. It’s a commitment to serve and love an entire nation that is blissfully afloat from many of the pressures of modern society. This bond will allow us to accomplish more together than we ever could alone. After all, Tuvalu means “Eight Standing Together.” It emphasizes the unity and stability of the geology of its atolls and lagoons, but also of its own cultural identity. The national emblem is emblazoned with the caption “Tuvalu Mo Te Atua”, Tuvalu for the Almighty, affirming that faith in Divine Providence will sustain their people against a sea of change and uncertainty.
It is a unique and humbling experience, to walk in the midst of an ancient people that have not forgotten the ways of their fathers, the teachings of Christ, and the morality and sanity of a calmer, arguably more civilized world. They huddle on handmade mats in simple homes, some lit only by firelight and the radiant faces of their children, to read scripture, pray, sing a few of the myriad of songs that have been preserved and passed down, or recite stories and genealogies of the ones that sailed before them.
A culture so rich and so innately aware of its self-worth in the eyes of Heaven does not simply sail away to neighboring shores. Nor does it sink passively into the Pacific. It reaches out to anyone and everyone that will listen, that will learn, that will give. It catches your eye, takes your hand, and holds your heart- asking not to be forgotten.
Monday, August 22, 2011
Unlike the rugged volcanic mountains of our island in Hawai’i, born in the fiery chaos of volcanic eruptions, the sandy atolls that form The Eight Islands were built slowly, on the nearly-microscopic world of coral polyps. The reefs rose from the ocean floor and eventually broke the surface, breaking down into sand and piling up in wide, flat islands.
The people arrived in canoes, thousands of years before Captain Cook and Christopher Columbus- they brought an ancient culture, rich with customs unique to their family. They called the place “Eight Standing Together”, for the eight atolls that comprised their universe- in their language: Tuvalu.
They voted for their independence from Great Britain in 1978, making them one of the youngest countries in the world. They are the fourth smallest geographically, and the third smallest in terms of population. It seems like the modern world has forgotten about this pristine patch of ocean on the fringes of the Pacific Rim. They are Polynesian- they share much in common with their Samoan cousins, and their tiny atolls are home to the majority of the fish populations that support Japan and U.S. fishing industries.
Our project is dedicated to educating, empowering, and enterprising this tiny nation. But how does one begin to change the world? One person at a time. Our idea was pitched to a boardroom full of potential donors, friends of the university, and philanthropists. The initial worry was that Tuvalu’s plight had fallen on deaf ears, but Shauna Ockey contacted Toa Sailusi and expressed her desire to help us in our project.
“I knew in my heart that I needed to do something. There was something about Toa’s spirit, his determination to leave his island and gain and education that I was drawn to. That kind of courage is difficult to find, and I knew I needed to help,” Shauna said.
And the Ockeys sure did. And they aren’t the only ones. Support has come from the most unlikely of places- people love to hear the stories and see the video clip in this post. There’s a part of all of us that wishes we could reach through our screens and experience a little of true Polynesia.
That’s why we are anxious to return. We are coming to build a new building in which the children at the Olave Preschool will meet. We will continue sharing essential business skills with our Tuvaluan family. We have big ideas for waste management, water desalination, renewable energy, and sustainable growth economic models. We paddle in rhythm with the Tuvaluan government to bring the people of Tuvalu what they feel they need.
Our project leader is a man of vision and action. Our sponsors and mentors believe in our cause. And our team is committed to extending a hand of brotherhood and support across the waves of the Pacific. From the minute we touched the sandy shores of their atolls, the people of Tuvalu touched our hearts. We have worked persistently to return to the Blue Nation. We have not forgotten them.